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# Quantum Mechanics: A Shorter Course of Theoretical Physics

De L D Landau et E.M. Lifshitz

## Description

Comprised of 16 chapters, this volume begins with an overview of non-relativistic quantum theory and the basic concepts of quantum mechanics such as the principles of uncertainty and superposition, operators, and the density matrix. Subsequent chapters deal with conservation laws in quantum mechanics; Schrödinger's equation and general properties of its solutions; perturbations independent of time and dependent on time; spin and the spin operator; and the principle of indistinguishability of similar particles. The atom and its electron states are also examined, together with diatomic molecules; elastic and inelastic collisions; photons and electrons; Dirac's equation; and particles and antiparticles. The final chapter is devoted to Feynman diagrams, paying particular attention to the scattering matrix, radiative corrections, and radiative shift of atomic levels.

This book will be of interest to physicists.

- Éditeur:
- Elsevier Science
- Sortie:
- Oct 22, 2013
- ISBN:
- 9781483187228
- Format:
- Livre

## Aperçu du livre

### Quantum Mechanics - L D Landau

### QUANTUM MECHANICS

**A SHORTER COURSE OF THEORETICAL PHYSICS **

L.D. LANDAU

E.M. LIFSHITZ

*Institute of Physical Problems, U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences *

*Table of Contents *

*Table of Contents*

**Cover image **

**Title page **

**A Shorter Course of Theoretical Physics: IN THREE VOLUMES **

**Copyright **

**PREFACE **

**PUBLISHER’S NOTE **

**NOTATION **

**Part I: Non-relativistic theory **

**Chapter 1: THE BASIC CONCEPTS OF QUANTUM MECHANICS **

**Publisher Summary **

**§1. The uncertainty principle **

**§2. The principle of superposition **

**§3. Operators **

**§4. Addition and multiplication of operators **

**§5. The continuous spectrum **

**§6. The passage to the limiting case of classical mechanics **

**§7. The density matrix **

**Chapter 2: CONSERVATION LAWS IN QUANTUM MECHANICS **

**Publisher Summary **

**§8. The Hamiltonian operator **

**§9. The differentiation of operators with respect to time **

**§10. Stationary states **

**§11. Matrices of physical quantities **

**§12. Momentum **

**§13. Uncertainty relations **

**§14. Angular momentum **

**§15. Eigenvalues of the angular momentum **

**§16. Eigenfunctions of the angular momentum **

**§17. Addition of angular momenta **

**§18. Angular momentum selection rules **

**§19. Parity of a state **

**Chapter 3: SCHRÖDINGER’S EQUATION **

**Publisher Summary **

**§20. Schrödinger’s equation **

**§21. The current density **

**§22. General properties of solutions of Schrödinger’s equation **

**§23. Time reversal **

**§24. The potential well **

**§25. The linear oscillator **

**§26. The quasi-classical wave function **

**§27. Bohr and Sommerfeld’s quantisation rule **

**§28. The transmission coefficient **

**§29. Motion in a centrally symmetric field **

**§30. Spherical waves **

**§31. Motion in a Coulomb field **

**Chapter 4: PERTURBATION THEORY **

**Publisher Summary **

**§32. Perturbations independent of time **

**§33. The secular equation **

**§34. Perturbations depending on time **

**§35. Transitions in the continuous spectrum **

**§36. Intermediate states **

**§37. The uncertainty relation for energy **

**§38. Quasi-stationary states **

**Chapter 5: SPIN **

**Publisher Summary **

**§39. Spin **

**§40. The spin operator **

**§41. Spinors **

**§42. Polarisation of electrons **

**§43. A particle in a magnetic field **

**§44. Motion in a uniform magnetic field **

**Chapter 6: IDENTITY OF PARTICLES **

**Publisher Summary **

**§45. The principle of indistinguishability of similar particles **

**§46. Exchange interaction **

**§47. Second quantisation. The case of Bose statistics **

**§48. Second quantisation. The case of Fermi statistics **

**Chapter 7: THE ATOM **

**Publisher Summary **

**§49. Atomic energy levels **

**§50. Electron states in the atom **

**§51. Fine structure of atomic levels **

**§52. The Mendeleev periodic system **

**§53. X-ray terms **

**§54. An atom in an electric field **

**§55. An atom in a magnetic field **

**Chapter 8: THE DIATOMIC MOLECULE **

**Publisher Summary **

**§56. Electron terms in the diatomic molecule **

**§57. The intersection of electron terms **

**§58. Valency **

**§59. Vibrational and rotational structures of terms in the diatomic molecule **

**§60. Parahydrogen and orthohydrogen **

**§61. Van der Waals forces **

**Chapter 9: ELASTIC COLLISIONS **

**Publisher Summary **

**§62. The scattering amplitude **

**§63. The condition for quasi-classical scattering **

**§64. Discrete energy levels as poles of the scattering amplitude **

**§65. The scattering of slow particles **

**§66. Resonance scattering at low energies **

**§67. Born’s formula **

**§68. Rutherford’s formula **

**§69. Collisions of like particles **

**§70. Elastic collisions between fast electrons and atoms **

**Chapter 10: INELASTIC COLLISIONS **

**Publisher Summary **

**§71. The principle of detailed balancing **

**PROBLEMS† **

**§72. Elastic scattering in the presence of inelastic processes **

**§73. Inelastic scattering of slow particles **

**§74. Inelastic collisions between fast particles and atoms **

**Part II: Relativistic theory **

**Chapter 11: PHOTONS **

**Publisher Summary **

**§75. The uncertainty principle in the relativistic case **

**§76. Quantisation of the free electromagnetic field† **

**§77. Photons **

**§78. The angular momentum and parity of the photon **

**Chapter 12: DIRAC’S EQUATION **

**Publisher Summary **

**§79. The Klein–Fock equation **

**§80. Four-dimensional spinors **

**§81. Inversion of spinors **

**§82. Dirac’s equation **

**§83. Dirac matrices **

**§84. The current density in Dirac’s equation **

**Chapter 13: PARTICLES AND ANTIPARTICLES **

**Publisher Summary **

**§85. Ψ-operators **

**§86. Particles and antiparticles **

**§87. The relation between the spin and the statistics **

**§88. Strictly neutral particles **

**§89. Internal parity of particles **

**§90. The CPT theorem **

**§91. Neutrinos **

**Chapter 14: ELECTRONS IN AN EXTERNAL FIELD **

**Publisher Summary **

**§92. Dirac’s equation for an electron in an external field **

**§93. Magnetic moment of the electron‡ **

**§94. Spin-orbit interaction **

**Chapter 15: RADIATION **

**Publisher Summary **

**§95. The electromagnetic interaction operator **

**§96. Spontaneous and stimulated emission† **

**§97. Dipole radiation **

**§98. Multipole radiation **

**§99. Radiation from atoms† **

**§100. The infra-red catastrophe **

**§101. Scattering of radiation **

**§102. Natural width of spectral lines **

**Chapter 16: FEYNMAN DIAGRAMS **

**Publisher Summary **

**§103. The scattering matrix **

**§104. Feynman diagrams **

**§105. Radiative corrections **

**§106. Radiative shift of atomic levels **

**INDEX **

**A Shorter Course of Theoretical Physics: IN THREE VOLUMES **

Vol. 1. Mechanics and Electrodynamics

Vol. 2. Quantum Mechanics

Vol. 3. Macroscopic Physics

*Copyright *

*Copyright*

Pergamon Press Ltd., Headington Hill Hall, Oxford

Pergamon Press Inc., Maxwell House, Fairview Park, Elmsford, New York 10523

Pergamon of Canada Ltd., 207 Queen’s Quay West, Toronto 1

Pergamon Press (Aust.) Pty. Ltd., 19a Boundary Street, Rushcutters Bay, N.S.W. 2011, Australia

Copyright © 1974 Pergamon Press Ltd.

*All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Pergamon Press Ltd. *

First edition 1974

**Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data **

Landau, Lev Davidovich, 1908–1968.

A shorter course of theoretical physics.

fiziki.

CONTENTS: v. 1. Mechanics and electrodynamics.

—v.2. Quantum mechanics.

1. Physics. 2. Mechanics. 3. Quantum theory.

lovich, joint author.

II. Title.

QC21.2.L3513 530 74-167927

ISBN 0-08-016739-X (v. 1)

ISBN 0-08-017801-4 (v. 2)

Translated from *Kratki **kurs teoreticheskoi fiziki, Kniga 2: Kvantovaya Mekhanika *

Izdatel’stvo Nauka

, Moscow, 1972

*Printed in Hungary *

### PREFACE

This book continues with the plan originated by Lev Davidovich Landau and described in the Preface to Volume 1: to present the minimum of material in theoretical physics that should be familiar to every present-day physicist, working in no matter what branch of physics.

Part I, dealing with non-relativistic quantum theory, follows our *Quantum Mechanics *(Volume 3 of the *Course of Theoretical Physics*). This has been abridged by dropping completely some sections that are of interest only to specialists, as well as numerous details of technique that are intended for those whose profession lies in theoretical physics. This considerable abridgement has naturally meant rewriting a fairly large part of the book. I have nevertheless tried to keep unchanged the manner and style of the exposition, and in no place to allow a simplification by popularising; the only simplification is by the omission of detail. In Part I, the words it can be shown

hardly occur: the results given are accompanied by their derivations.

This is, however, less true of Part II. The treatment here is based on the *Relativistic Quantum Theory *and myself (Volume 4 of the *Course*), but only the fundamentals of quantum electrodynamics are presented. Here again I have sought to proceed in such a way as to show as clearly as possible the physical hypotheses and logical structure of the theory; but many applications of the theory are mentioned only by way of their results, on account of the frequent complexity of the calculations needed to solve specific problems in this field. In the choice of materials for Part II I have also been guided to some extent by the content of Landau’s lectures on quantum electrodynamics at Moscow University in 1959–60; my thanks are due to A. S. Kompaneets, N. I. Bud’ko and P. S. Kondratenko for making available their notes of these lectures.

The final chapter on Feynman diagrams differs somewhat in style, both as regards its greater complexity and in being concerned with methods rather than physical results. I felt it necessary, however, to provide the reader with at least an idea of the origin and significance of the concepts of the diagram technique, which are an indispensable part of the equipment of theoretical physics at the present time. (I do not seek to describe the use of this technique for the solution of practical problems.) This chapter can be omitted, if the reader so wishes, without affecting the study of the remainder.

This book was published in the original Russian almost exactly ten years after the fateful day of 7 January 1962, when a road accident cut short Lev Davidovich Landau’s work as a scientist and a teacher. Not one of the readers of the *Shorter Course *has had the joy of attending Landau’s lectures. I should like to think that in these books it will be possible to convey to them something of his spirit as a teacher, his striving for clarity, his effort to make simple what was complex and so to reveal the laws of nature in their true simplicity and beauty.

**E.M. Lifshitz **

### PUBLISHER’S NOTE

As is the general rule in the volumes in the *Course of Theoretical Physics*, references to original papers give simply the author’s name and the date.

### NOTATION

Ψ time-dependent wave function

ψ wave function without time factor

Operators are denoted by a circumflex ˆ

Transposed operators are denoted by a tilde ˜

Hermitian conjugate operators are denoted by a superscript +

*fmn *= 〈*m*|*f*|*n*〉 matrix elements of the quantity *f *

Ĥ Hamiltonian

*E *non-relativistic energy

ω*nm *= (*En*-*Em*transition frequency

ε relativistic particle energy, including rest energy

d*q *element in configuration space

d*V *= d*x *d*y *d*z *element in ordinary space

Ω normalisation volume

Four-dimensional vector indices are denoted (in Part II) by Greek letters λ, μ, ν, …, which take the values 0, 1, 2, 3.

In Part II, relativistic units are used; they are defined in the first footnote to **§76. **

References to *Mechanics and Electrodynamics *are to Volume 1 of the *Shorter Course. *

### Part I

*Non-relativistic theory *

*Non-relativistic theory*

**Outline **

**Chapter 1: THE BASIC CONCEPTS OF QUANTUM MECHANICS **

**Chapter 2: CONSERVATION LAWS IN QUANTUM MECHANICS **

**Chapter 3: SCHRÖDINGER’S EQUATION **

**Chapter 4: PERTURBATION THEORY **

**Chapter 5: SPIN **

**Chapter 6: IDENTITY OF PARTICLES **

**Chapter 7: THE ATOM **

**Chapter 8: THE DIATOMIC MOLECULE **

**Chapter 9: ELASTIC COLLISIONS **

**Chapter 10: INELASTIC COLLISIONS **

**CHAPTER 1 **

**THE BASIC CONCEPTS OF QUANTUM MECHANICS **

*Publisher Summary *

*Publisher Summary*

This chapter discusses the basic concepts of quantum mechanics. The mechanics which governs atomic phenomena—quantum mechanics or wave mechanics—must be based on ideas of motion which are fundamentally different from those of classical mechanics. In quantum mechanics there is no such concept as the path of a particle. This forms the content of what is called the uncertainty principle, one of the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics, discovered by W. Heisenberg in 1927. In that it rejects the ordinary ideas of classical mechanics, the uncertainty principle might be said to be negative in content. This principle in itself does not suffice as a basis on which to construct a new mechanics of particles. Such a theory must naturally be founded on some positive assertions, which are also discussed in the chapter. However, in order to formulate these assertions, one must first ascertain the statement of the problems that confront quantum mechanics. To do so, the special nature of the interrelation between quantum mechanics and classical mechanics is examined. A more general theory can usually be formulated in a logically complete manner, independently of a less general theory which forms a limiting case of it. Thus, relativistic mechanics can be constructed on the basis of its own fundamental principles, without any reference to Newtonian mechanics.

*§1. The uncertainty principle *

*§1. The uncertainty principle*

When we attempt to apply classical mechanics and electrodynamics to explain atomic phenomena, they lead to results which are in obvious conflict with experiment. This is very clearly seen from the contradiction obtained on applying ordinary electrodynamics to a model of an atom in which the electrons move round the nucleus in classical orbits. During such motion, as in any accelerated motion of charges, the electrons would have to emit electromagnetic waves continually. By this emission, the electrons would lose their energy, and this would eventually cause them to fall into the nucleus. Thus, according to classical electrodynamics, the atom would be unstable, which does not at all agree with reality.

This marked contradiction between theory and experiment indicates that the construction of a theory applicable to atomic phenomena—that is, phenomena occurring in particles of very small mass at very small distances—demands a fundamental modification of the basic physical concepts and laws.

As a starting-point for an investigation of these modifications, it is convenient to take the experimentally observed phenomenon known as *electron diffraction.***†It is found that, when a homogeneous beam of electrons passes through a crystal, the emergent beam exhibits a pattern of alternate maxima and minima of intensity, wholly similar to the diffraction pattern observed in the diffraction of electromagnetic waves. Thus, under certain conditions, the behaviour of material particles—in this case, the electrons—displays features belonging to wave processes. **

How markedly this phenomenon contradicts the usual ideas of motion is best seen from the following imaginary experiment, an idealisation of the experiment of electron diffraction by a crystal. Let us imagine a screen impermeable to electrons, in which two slits are cut. On observing the passage of a beam of electrons through one of the slits, the other being covered, we obtain, on a continuous screen placed behind the slit, some pattern of intensity distribution; in the same way, by uncovering the second slit and covering the first, we obtain another pattern. On observing the passage of the beam through both slits, we should expect, on the basis of ordinary classical ideas, a pattern which is a simple superposition of the other two: each electron, moving in its path, passes through one of the slits and has no effect on the electrons passing through the other slit. The phenomenon of electron diffraction shows, however, that in reality we obtain a diffraction pattern which, owing to interference, does not at all correspond to the sum of the patterns given by each slit separately. It is clear that this result can in no way be reconciled with the idea that electrons move in paths.

Thus the mechanics which governs atomic phenomena—*quantum mechanics *or *wave mechanics*—must be based on ideas of motion which are fundamentally different from those of classical mechanics. In quantum mechanics there is no such concept as the path of a particle. This forms the content of what is called the *uncertainty principle*, one of the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics, discovered by W. Heisenberg in 1927.**† **

In that it rejects the ordinary ideas of classical mechanics, the uncertainty principle might be said to be negative in content. Of course, this principle in itself does not suffice as a basis on which to construct a new mechanics of particles. Such a theory must naturally be founded on some positive assertions, which we shall discuss below (**§2). However, in order to formulate these assertions, we must first ascertain the statement of the problems which confront quantum mechanics. To do so, we first examine the special nature of the interrelation between quantum mechanics and classical mechanics. A more general theory can usually be formulated in a logically complete manner, independently of a less general theory which forms a limiting case of it. Thus, relativistic mechanics can be constructed on the basis of its own fundamental principles, without any reference to Newtonian mechanics. It is in principle impossible, however, to formulate the basic concepts of quantum mechanics without using classical mechanics. The fact that an electron † has no definite path means that it has also, in itself, no other dynamical characteristics.‡ Hence it is clear that, for a system composed only of quantum objects, it would be entirely impossible to construct any logically independent mechanics. The possibility of a quantitative description of the motion of an electron requires the presence also of physical objects which obey classical mechanics to a sufficient degree of accuracy. If an electron interacts with such a classical object, the state of the latter is, generally speaking, altered. The nature and magnitude of this change depend on the state of the electron, and therefore may serve to characterise it quantitatively. **

In this connection the classical object

is usually called *apparatus*, and its interaction with the electron is spoken of as *measurement. *However, it must be emphasised that we are here not discussing a process of measurement in which the physicist-observer takes part. By *measurement*, in quantum mechanics, we understand any process of interaction between classical and quantum objects, occurring apart from and independently of any observer. The importance of the concept of measurement in quantum mechanics was elucidated by N. Bohr.

We have defined apparatus

as a physical object which is governed, with sufficient accuracy, by classical mechanics. Such, for instance, is a body of large enough mass. However, it must not be supposed that apparatus is necessarily macroscopic. Under certain conditions, the part of apparatus may also be taken by an object which is microscopic, since the idea of with sufficient accuracy

depends on the actual problem proposed. Thus, the motion of an electron in a Wilson chamber is observed by means of the cloudy track which it leaves, and the thickness of this is large compared with atomic dimensions; when the path is determined with such low accuracy, the electron is an entirely classical object.

Thus quantum mechanics occupies a very unusual place among physical theories: it contains classical mechanics as a limiting case, yet at the same time it requires this limiting case for its own formulation.

We may now formulate the problem of quantum mechanics. A typical problem consists in predicting the result of a subsequent measurement from the known results of previous measurements. Moreover, we shall see later that, in comparison with classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, generally speaking, restricts the range of values which can be taken by various physical quantities (for example, energy): that is, the values which can be obtained as a result of measuring the quantity concerned. The methods of quantum mechanics must enable us to determine these admissible values.

The measuring process has in quantum mechanics a very important property: it always affects the electron subjected to it, and it is in principle impossible to make its effect arbitrarily small, for a given accuracy of measurement. The more exact the measurement, the stronger the effect exerted by it, and only in measurements of very low accuracy can the effect on the measured object be small. This property of measurements is logically related to the fact that the dynamical characteristics of the electron appear only as a result of the measurement itself. It is clear that, if the effect of the measuring process on the object of it could be made arbitrarily small, this would mean that the measured quantity has in itself a definite value independent of the measurement.

Among the various kinds of measurement, the measurement of the coordinates of the electron plays a fundamental part. Within the limits of applicability of quantum mechanics, a measurement of the coordinates of an electron can always be performed **† with any desired accuracy. **

Let us suppose that, at definite time intervals Δ*t*, successive measurements of the coordinates of an electron are made. The results will not in general lie on a smooth curve. On the contrary, the more accurately the measurements are made, the more discontinuous and disorderly will be the variation of their results, in accordance with the nonexistence of a path of the electron. A fairly smooth path is obtained only if the coordinates of the electron are measured with a low degree of accuracy, as for instance from the condensation of vapour droplets in a Wilson chamber.

If now, leaving the accuracy of the measurements unchanged, we diminish the intervals Δ*t *between measurements, then adjacent measurements, of course, give neighbouring values of the coordinates. However, the results of a series of successive measurements, though they lie in a small region of space, will be distributed in this region in a wholly irregular manner, lying on no smooth curve.

This circumstance shows that, in quantum mechanics, there is no such concept as the velocity of a particle in the classical sense of the word, i.e. the limit to which the difference of the coordinates at two instants, divided by the interval Δ*t *between these instants, tends as Δ*t *tends to zero. However, we shall see later that in quantum mechanics, nevertheless, a reasonable definition of the velocity of a particle at a given instant can be constructed, and this velocity passes into the classical velocity as we pass to classical mechanics. But whereas in classical mechanics a particle has defined coordinates and velocity at any given instant, in quantum mechanics the situation is entirely different. If, as a result of measurement, the electron is found to have definite coordinates, then it has no definite velocity whatever. Conversely, if the electron has a definite velocity, it cannot have a definite position in space. For the simultaneous existence of the coordinates and velocity would mean the existence of a definite path, which the electron has not. Thus, in quantum mechanics, the coordinates and velocity of an electron are quantities which cannot be simultaneously measured exactly, i.e. they cannot simultaneously have definite values. We may say that the coordinates and velocity of the electron are quantities which do not exist simultaneously. In what follows we shall derive the quantitative relation which determines the possibility of an inexact measurement of the coordinates and velocity at the same instant.

A complete description of the state of a physical system in classical mechanics is effected by stating all its coordinates and velocities at a given instant; with these initial data, the equations of motion completely determine the behaviour of the system at all subsequent instants. In quantum mechanics such a description is in principle impossible, since the coordinates and the corresponding velocities cannot exist simultaneously. Thus a description of the state of a quantum system is effected by means of a smaller number of quantities than in classical mechanics, i.e. it is less detailed than a classical description.

A very important consequence follows from this regarding the nature of the predictions made in quantum mechanics. Whereas a classical description suffices to predict the future motion of a mechanical system with complete accuracy, the less detailed description given in quantum mechanics evidently cannot be enough to do this. This means that, even if an electron is in a state described in the most complete manner possible in quantum mechanics, its behaviour at subsequent instants is still in principle uncertain. Hence quantum mechanics cannot make completely definite predictions concerning the future behaviour of the electron. For a given initial state of the electron, a subsequent measurement can give various results. The problem in quantum mechanics consists in determining the probability of obtaining various results on performing this measurement. It is understood, of course, that in some cases the probability of a given result of measurement may be equal to unity, i.e. certainty, so that the result of that measurement is unique.

We shall often find in what follows that by no means every set of physical quantities in quantum mechanics can be measured simultaneously, i.e. can all have definite values at the same time. We have already mentioned one example, namely the velocity and coordinates of an electron. An important part is played in quantum mechanics by sets of physical quantities having the following property: these quantities can be measured simultaneously, but if they simultaneously have definite values, no other physical quantity (not being a function of these) can have a definite value in that state. We shall speak of such sets of physical quantities as *complete sets*.

Any description of the state of an electron arises as a result of some measurement. We shall now formulate the meaning of a *complete description *of a state in quantum mechanics. Completely described states occur as a result of the simultaneous measurement of a complete set of physical quantities. From the results of such a measurement we can, in particular, determine the probability of various results of any subsequent measurement, regardless of the history of the electron prior to the first measurement.

From now on (except in **§§7 and 42) we shall understand the states of a quantum system to be completely described states. **

*§2. The principle of superposition *

*§2. The principle of superposition*

The fundamental difference between the physical concepts of motion in quantum and classical mechanics naturally implies an equally fundamental change in the mathematical formalism of the theory. First of all, therefore, we must consider the method of describing the state of a quantum system.

We shall denote by *q *the set of coordinates of a quantum system, and by d*q *the product of the differentials of these coordinates. This d*q *is called an element of volume in the *configuration space *of the system; for one particle, d*q *coincides with an element of volume d*V *ordinary space.

In classical mechanics, the state of a system is described by specifying, at a particular instant, all its coordinates *q *. In quantum mechanics, as we have seen, such a description is certainly impossible. A complete description of the state of the system here signifies much less, namely the possibility of predicting the probabilities of particular results when the coordinates (or other quantities) of the system are measured.

The basis of the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics lies in the proposition that a state of a system can be described by a definite (in general complex) function Ψ(*q*) of the coordinates. The square of the modulus of this function determines the probability distribution of the values of the coordinates: |Ψ|² d*q *is the probability that a measurement performed on the system will find the values of the coordinates to be in the element d*q *of configuration space. The function Ψ is called the *wave function *of the system.**† **

A knowledge of the wave function allows us, in principle, to calculate the probability of the various results of any other measurement (not necessarily of the coordinates) also. All these probabilities are determined by expressions bilinear in Ψ and Ψ*. The most general form of such an expression is

**(2.1) **

where the function ϕ(*q, q*′) depends on the nature and the result of the measurement, and the integration is extended over all configuration space. The probability Ψ*Ψ of various values of the coordinates is itself an expression of this type.

The state of the system, and with it the wave function, in general varies with time. In this sense the wave function can be regarded as a function of time also. If the wave function is known at some initial instant, then, from the very meaning of the concept of complete description of a state, it is in principle determined at every succeeding instant. The actual dependence of the wave function on time is determined by equations which will be derived later.

The sum of the probabilities of all possible values of the coordinates of the system must, by definition, be equal to unity. It is therefore necessary that the result of integrating |Ψ|² over all configuration space should be equal to unity:

**(2.2) **

This equation is what is called the *normalisation condition *for wave functions. If the integral of |Ψ|² converges, then by choosing an appropriate constant coefficient the function Ψ can be, as we say, *normalised*. We shall see later, however, that the integral of |Ψ|² may diverge, and then Ψ cannot be normalised by the condition **(2.2). In such cases |Ψ|² does not, of course, determine the absolute values of the probability of the coordinates, but the ratio of the values of |Ψ|² at two different points of configuration space determines the relative probability of the corresponding values of the coordinates. **

Since all quantities calculated by means of the wave function, and having a direct physical meaning, are of the form **(2.1), in which Ψ appears multiplied by Ψ*, it is clear that the normalised wave function is determined only to within a constant phase factor of the form eiα (where α is any real number). This indeterminacy is in principle irremovable; it is, however, unimportant, since it has no effect upon any physical results. **

The positive content of quantum mechanics is founded on a series of propositions concerning the properties of the wave function. These are as follows.

Suppose that, in a state with wave function Ψ1(*q*), some measurement leads with certainty to a definite result (result 1), while in a state with Ψ2(*q*) it leads to result 2. Then it is asserted that every linear combination of Ψ1 and Ψ2, i.e. every function of the form *c*1Ψ1+*c*2Ψ2 (where *c*1 and *c*2 are constants), describes a state in which that measurement leads to either result 1 or result 2. Moreover, we can assert that, if we know the time dependence of the states, which for the one case is given by the function Ψ1(*q, t*), and for the other by Ψ*2*(*q, t*), then any linear combination also gives a possible dependence of a state on time.

These propositions constitute what is called the *principle of superposition of states*. In particular, it follows from this principle that equations satisfied by wave functions must be linear.

Let us consider a system composed of two parts, and suppose that the state of this system is given in such a way that each of its parts is completely described.**† Then we can say that the probabilities of the coordinates q1 of the first part are independent of the probabilities of the coordinates q2 of the second part, and therefore the probability distribution for the whole system should be equal to the product of the probabilities of its parts. This means that the wave function Ψ12(q1, q2) of the system can be represented in the form of a product of the wave functions Ψ1(q1) and Ψ2(q2) of its parts: **

**(2.3) **

If the two parts do not interact, then this relation between the wave function of the system and those of its parts will be maintained at future instants also:

**(2.4) **

*§3. Operators *

*§3. Operators*

Let us consider some physical quantity *f *which characterises the state of a quantum system. Strictly, we should speak in the following discussion not of one quantity, but of a complete set of them at the same time. However, the discussion is not essentially changed by this, and for brevity and simplicity we shall work below in terms of only one physical quantity.

The values which a given physical quantity can take are called in quantum mechanics its *eigenvalues*, and the set of these is referred to as the *spectrum of eigenvalues *of the given quantity. In classical mechanics, generally speaking, quantities run through a continuous series of values. In quantum mechanics also there are physical quantities (for instance, the coordinates) whose eigenvalues occupy a continuous range; in such cases we speak of a *continuous spectrum *of eigenvalues. As well as such quantities, however, there exist in quantum mechanics others whose eigenvalues form some discrete set; in such cases we speak of a *discrete spectrum*.

We shall suppose for simplicity that the quantity *f *considered here has a discrete spectrum; the case of a continuous spectrum will be discussed in **§5. The eigenvalues of the quantity f are denoted by fn, where the suffix n takes the values 0, 1, 2, 3, …. We also denote the wave function of the system, in the state where the quantity f has the value fn, by Ψn. The wave functions Ψn are called the eigenfunctions of the given physical quantity f. Each of these functions is supposed normalised, so that **

**(3.1) **

If the system is in some arbitrary state with wave function Ψ, a measurement of the quantity *f *carried out on it will give as a result one of the eigenvalues *fn*. In accordance with the principle of superposition, we can assert that the wave function Ψ must be a linear combination of those eigenfunctions Ψ*n *which correspond to the values *fn *that can be obtained, with probability different from zero, when a measurement is made on the system and it is in the state considered. Hence, in the general case of an arbitrary state, the function Ψ